A veritable black swan event of the 21st century, COVID-19, has caused global business and trade activities to come to a halt. In India, the strangulation of business activities has caused industries to bear the brunt of rising operational costs in the face of reductions in orders. Against this backdrop, the government and the business ecosystem stakeholders are working in a dynamic synergy to mitigate the socio-economic fallout and set the nation down the path to recuperation.
Consequently, we can already envisage a post-pandemic world that is different from the one that entered the COVID era. As noted Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah Harari recently wrote, “The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively.” And the country’s startup ecosystem is emerging as the key to unlocking a healthy and progressive future for all.
The Indian startup ecosystem
In the face of the pandemic, the Nietzschean wisdom that “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” holds all the more true for startups and innovators operating today. Because while some startups are deciding to lay low while focusing on tiding over the crisis, a majority of innovators across sectors are rejigging their business models to adapt to the extraordinary circumstances.
Driven by the spirit of innovation, such startups are directing their resources to resolve the immediate challenges and need-gaps being faced by the crisis-hit society under lockdown. Here’s listing some of the major sectors that will come out stronger from the pandemic.
If there is one sector whose significance has been thrown into sharp relief by the incumbent crisis, it is the healthcare and biotech. While medical professionals and supporting staff are engaged on the front-lines battling the microscopic antagonists, researchers and scientists are occupied in an equally critical pursuit of developing a vaccine that will effectively put an end to the viral outbreak.
At the same time, many biotech companies are doubling down on their efforts to overcome any and all challenges that have emerged in the wake of the pandemic. One such crisis is that of the shortage of equipment critical to our fight against COVID-19: ventilator. Sensing this need-gap, top intellects of the world—including an IIT Kanpur-based startup Nocca Robotics—are participating in the race against time to create at scale ventilators most suited to help doctors manage COVID-19 patients.
The current period marks the first instance in world history when the entire world is under lockdown for an extended period of time. OTT platforms had already earned favour in the popular culture in the pre-coronavirus world. Now, operators such as Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, etc., are serving as major sources of entertainment for a large segment, if not all, of population the world over. Hence, it is only reasonable to expect OTT companies to reign supreme in the post-pandemic world as well.
While the world is under lockdown and all non-essential physical movement is restricted, people are embracing online solutions to fulfil their requirements. In the wake of the booming demand, tech players across sectors are rising to the occasion. Edtech is a key example. Today, millions of educators and students are connecting online to continue with the learning activities. New-age players are closely following this development and continuously improvising to ensure seamless online engagement. This trend will not dial down for the foreseeable future.
The renewed importance that digital services currently enjoy is expected to stay even after the lockdown is lifted. In its wake, many business players are embracing the virtual to continue their operations. At the same time, some startups are expanding their dimensions to include the digital into their organizational structure. One such example is Wow! Momo which has recently launched its grocery arm Wow! Momo Essentials to deliver essential goods and services to the quarantined populace in India.
In conclusion, one needs to keep in mind Harari’s words. “We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive—but we will inhabit a different world.”